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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Foreign National Pleads Guilty for Role in International Money Laundering Scheme Involving More Than $1.4 Million in Losses to Victims

WASHINGTON – A Bulgarian national pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia for his role in laundering money for a transnational criminal group based in Eastern Europe, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division.  According to court documents, in less than one year, the criminal conspiracy netted more than $1.4 million from U.S. victims.   

Georgi Boychev Georgiev, 43, a resident of Bulgaria, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman to conspiracy to commit money laundering.  Georgiev was extradited from Poland to the United States in December 2009.  Georgiev faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison at sentencing, scheduled for July 23, 2010.   

According to court documents, Georgiev participated in a scheme that operated from July 2005 through November 2006, and involved the posting of fraudulent advertisements on eBay and other web sites offering expensive vehicles and boats for sale that the conspirators did not possess. When the U.S. victims expressed interest in the merchandise, they were contacted directly by an e-mail from a purported seller. According to court documents, the victims were then instructed to wire transfer payments through “eBay Secure Traders”—an entity which has no actual affiliation to eBay but was used as a ruse to persuade the victims that they were sending money into a secure escrow account pending delivery and inspection of their purchases. Instead, the victims’ funds were wired directly into bank accounts in Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland that were controlled by co-conspirators.

Georgiev was originally charged on Jan. 9, 2008, along with five additional defendants: Roman Teodor, Georgi Vasilev Pletnyov, Ivaylo Vasilev Pletnyov, Nikolay Georgiev Minchev and Antoaneta Angelova Getova.  On Dec. 2, 2009, Ivaylo Vasilev Pletnyov and Nikolay Georgiev Minchev were sentenced to four years and 30 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in the money laundering conspiracy.  The United States continues to work with foreign counterparts in Romania and Poland regarding the remaining defendants.  An indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.

This investigation was conducted by the FBI – Hungarian National Bureau of Investigation (HNBI) Organized Crime Task Force located in Budapest, Hungary (Budapest Task Force).  The Budapest Task Force was established by the FBI in April 2000 to address the increasing threat of Eurasian organized crime groups to the United States. 

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Lisa Page of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance on this case.

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